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What aspects of Victorian society does Stevenson expose and explore in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

What aspects of Victorian society does Stevenson expose and explore in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? During The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson highlights various characteristics of Victorian society. Clearly the main aspect he exposes and investigates is the duality within human beings. This idea is seen throughout the book, most obviously through the characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He suggests that all human beings have a light and darker side within them. Stevenson also shows the hypocrisy going on during the Victorian period. Many higher-class people tried to use etiquette and pretended that they had no moral weaknesses. Blackmail, adultery and various other things often hid behind the false image of people. The new theory of evolution was causing chaos within society and led to other theories. Recidivism, evolution happing backwards was a fear in Victorian times. During the Victorian times there were other great changes happening within industry and many other areas. This led to a chaotic environment starting to take grip. Society tried to counter this by invoking strict rules on etiquette and behaviour for the higher classes. This however often hid many unsavoury things. These included murder, corruption, adultery and more. ...read more.

Middle

The description of the house shows the importance of appearance and reputation during Victorian times for people. However this usually was not the case. As you go through the novel you see that Dr Jekyll is clearly a hypocrite. When he talks about Mr Hyde pretends he is another person. 'I swear to God I will never set eyes on him again' and 'you do not know him as I do' are both quotes that clearly show his denial of Mr Hyde's existence. He knows this isn't the case and Mr Hyde is part of himself. If Dr Jekyll had no knowledge of Mr Hyde's doings he would not be a hypocrite yet Dr Jekyll is the one who wishes to carry on his high status life yet also wishes to indulge in his evil side secretly. During the period before the novel was written, Charles Darwin had published his new theory about the evolution and development of humans. He said that apes had evolved over a long period of time and had evolved into humans. This idea was controversial and shook the medical and religious world. This led to many fears about evolution and the consequences of it. An idea called recidivism was developed: if apes can evolve forwards and become humans what if humans would evolve backwards and turn back to their animalistic nature. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in the Victorian era the idea of duality is still significant in modern times. During Victorian times, people feared scientific progress by scientists if it was not controlled. Yet curiosity has always been a characteristic of humanity. This can relate to Dr Lanyon and Dr Jekyll's experiments. They were performed without any regulations and rules and therefore became dangerous. This conflict of ideas has been discussed in many books and other media such as Frankenstein. This conflict didn't just occur during the Victorian era, as science progressed so did the occurrence of new and controversial ideas. Cloning has been a highly published discovery because it was potentially incredible yet was also controversial. People believed that being able to 'copy' a human life is immoral and religious groups thought it was against god. This clash of thinking happened when genetics was being developed. Designer babies and curing hereditary diseases have been in the news recently and has caused great controversy. Religious groups thought it was against god as he creates life, and humans modifying life is wrong. Robert Louis Stevenson was writing about things that affected society when he was alive. His novel is so popular because the points he made are still relevant to society anytime and this is what makes this book great. Year 10 English Coursework Shaun Packiarajah 10A ...read more.

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